Preparations for an interview
Whether you are new in the job market or already have gained some work experience, feeling nervous in advance of a job interview can occur. On this page some advice will be given, which can be helpful when preparing for an interview. Some of the advice might seem quite obvious, but is nevertheless very important to keep in mind during the interview.
- Be on time! By arriving ten minutes before the interview gives a good first impression and shows that you respect the interviewers schedule. If something ought to happen and you realize you will not make it on time, make sure you call in advance and apologize.
- Dress decent and customize your outfit according to the company you visit. What you wear will affect the interviewer´s first impression. As a general rule of thumb, it is better to dress a little too neatly rather than being underdressed. Put differently: “Rather be overdressed, then underdressed”
- Do not be afraid of eye contact, give the interviewer a firm handshake and introduce yourself. It is always recommended to remember the interviewer´s name; in that way you can address the person by name during the interview.
How to stand out of the crowd?
As a newcomer, fresh from university, one can often encounter fierce competition when looking for a traineeship or starter job. First advice is to try to think about aspects which make you unique. Have you been an active member of a student or sport association? Do you have experience with service-related tasks in other contexts? Do you already have some industry or company specific knowlegde?
- Read through the job advertisement carefully. This will give you an overview over the personal qualities the organization is looking for and this might also enable you to come up with examples which illustrate your qualities in these areas. The interviewer will essentially be interested in how you will fit with the actual position.
- Be prepared to defend your previous life choices. What was your motivation for starting your current or completed education? This will be a good opportunity for you to further elaborate who you are as a person.
- Be concrete and factual in your answers. Talking too much might be a signal of uncertainty.
- Do not interrupt the interviewer, listen to carefully to what is being said, and answer the best you can. You might use specific examples in order to illustrate your experience.
- Take your time to come up with a good answer to the questions, and do not fear silence. Showing that you can handle silence in such settings, might rather indicate that you are in control of the situation and that you are self-confident. It may be better to take some time to reflect the answer, than just blurring out the first thing that comes to your mind.
- Highlight your strengths, but also be humble. Everyone has their weaknesses and it important to be aware of these in order to constantly enhance and evolve oneself. Questions about your strengths and weaknesses are a given in an interview and it is therefore wise to have thought about this in advance of the interview.
- Try to feel the atmosphere in the room. Would it be appropriate to make a joke? What befits the situation? Candidates who exit the interview with an inappropriate comment might be seen as unprofessional, which again might influence the overall impression negatively. On the other hand, a pleasant comment might have a positive effect on the interviewer.
- Think «less is more» – if the interviewer is asking you about your previous work experiences, like for instance “describe a situation where you took the initiative to introduce something new”, it is better to come up with a small example rather than not giving an answer. Candidates often believe that their examples are not good enough, but in fact all details (small or big) are important for the interviewer in order to create an overall impression of you.
- Try to relax. Have in mind that the person interviewing you, is just like any other person and understands that you might be nervous and that you can make mistakes. If you accidentally say something weird or irrelevant it is better to take it with a smile. Self-irony is a good quality.
Got a crystallized image about what to expect during your (first) job interview? Or, already completely prepared for your coming interview? Then it is time to proceed to the eighth and final step of this advice platform: Case interviews